Cornaro crest

Camillo Mariani

Born: 1567, Vicenza

Died: July 1611, Rome (buried in Church of S. Susanna)

CAMILLO MARIANI, after establishing himself as a successful sculptor in Vicenza and the Veneto, removed at age 30 to Rome, where his work provided an important bridge between the Renaissance and Baroque periods.

Mariani, whose family came originally from Siena, began his career in the workshop of Lorenzo and Agostino Rubini in Vicenza, and was probably involved in the statuary decoration at the Teatro Olimpico of Vicenza, designed by history's most influential architect, Andrea Palladio. By 1589 he was one of the nine sculptors commissioned by Vincenzo Scamozzi to complete the acroteriali atop the Jacopo Sansovino-designed Marciana Library in Piazza di S. Marco at Venice. Mariani contributed three of the stone statues -- Perserpine, Hymen (destroyed when the nearby belltower collapsed in the early 1900s) and Aeolus -- in the period 1588-91.

From about 1591 until 1597, when he removed with his assistants to Rome, Mariani maintained his own sculpture workshop in Vicenza. During that period he executed the six oversize stucco sculptures of members of the Cornaro family that adorn the grand salon of the Andrea Palladio-designed Villa Cornaro at Piombino Dese. Other works of the period were a series of at least seven memorial medals, as well as statues for Vicenza's Basilica and statuary embellishments for the facade of the Church of S. Pietro in the same city.

Upon removing to Rome in 1597, Mariani launched immediately into major sculpture projects at the Church of S. Giovanni in Laterano (Lancellotti Chapel), the Church of S. Pudenziana (Caetani Chapel) and, soon after, the Church of S. Bernardo alle Terme (eight stucco saints, acclaimed by one writer as Mariani's masterwork). Later he executed commissions at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican (stucco statues, Chapel of Clement VIII, 1599-1601), the Pantheon (Chapel of S. Giuseppe, 1601) and at the Churches of S. Maria sopra Minerva (Religion and Saints Peter and Paul, Aldobrandini Chapel, 1604) and S. Maria Maggiore (marble angel above Sacristry; modelli for metal angels holding painting of Madonna and Child; marble statue of S. John the Baptist; marble relief with crown of thorns [completed by his student Francesco Mochi], Chapel of Paul V, 1607-11). With Ambrogio Buonvicino, he was retained, 1606, to execute four angels for the baldacchino mobile in S. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

Mariani's stature in Rome is evidenced by his admission to membership, 1600, in the Virtuosi al Pantheon, Rome's oldest social organization for artists, and to the Accademia di S. Luca, 1604.

1997-9 C. I. Gable